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Dozens Hospitalized, Including High School Students, After Bus Carrying Penn. Church Members Crashes

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A bus carrying dozens of youth church members and their chaperones veered off the highway Sunday and injured more than 30 people aboard.

According to a Pennsylvania State Police report, the bus had been traveling on Interstate 81 in Schuylkill County at the time of the accident. For an "unknown reason," the driver lost control of the vehicle and "traveled off the roadway," the report stated.

The bus veered off the right shoulder, traveling across Route 25 before striking a guard rail and hitting an embankment. The bus came to an eventual stop about fifty yards into a wooded area, where fire department and EMS responders assisted those aboard.

About 30 people were transported to the hospital with injuries, according to police. The bus had been carrying members of the Lives Changed by Christ Church in Lancaster County, the church confirmed.

Bus Carrying Church Youth Crashes
Bus Carrying Church Youth Crashes

abc 27 news/ youtube

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In a statement posted to the church website Sunday, LCBC Senior Pastor David Ashcraft said passengers included high school freshman and sophomore girls, as well as leaders from the church's Manheim Campus who had been returning from a ministry retreat in Lake Champion, New York.

Ashcraft stated that all passengers on the bus had been injured in the accident, and "all but one were transported to five local hospitals for care." As of Sunday night, two-thirds of those injured had been released from the hospital, with the remaining still hospitalized, including "several in critical condition."

"We ask that you would continue to pray for each student and their families during this very difficult time. Specifically, we are asking God for the comfort and healing of each student along with wisdom and skill for the medical teams that care for them," Ashcraft wrote. "Additionally, we ask for peace and comfort for the families of each of the girls involved."

Premier Number 1 Limousine Service, the company that owned and operated the bus, did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Tremont Fire Chief Brian Eisenacher told WBRE Sunday that multiple passengers were transported to the hospital by helicopter following the crash, while the rest were brought by ground EMS to various nearby hospitals.

Bus Carrying Church Youth Crashes
Bus Carrying Church Youth Crashes

abc 27 news/ youtube

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"We had to pretty much work off the ladders alongside the bus to get the patients out. Everyone pretty much was inside the bus still when we got here, and we had mostly everybody transported probably within the hour," Eisanacher said.

He added, "Incidents like this take a lot of manpower to get people out of the bus and then down into ambulances that are waiting down here. It takes a pile of people to get something like this accomplished.

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